First Impressions

Green County First Impressions
Identifying Community Development Opportunities Through New Perspectives

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension helps communities assess community development opportunities and develop strategies for community improvement. The First Impressions program helps communities learn about existing strengths and weaknesses of similar communities. The results from a First Impressions visit can serve as the basis for community action and as a way to document changes in the community over time. 

All communities have difficulties viewing and experiencing their surroundings as others — customers, visitors, potential residents, and potential businesses — see them. Views can be skewed by over-familiarization, a lack of differing perspectives, expectations, and a reluctance to be completely honest with our neighbors when dealing with difficult issues, such as the appearance of buildings, customer service, and the maintenance of public facilities. 

How does First Impressions work?

Volunteers from two communities agree to do unannounced visits and then report on their findings. Participants become “secret shoppers” for the day to discover what they can about a similar community or neighborhood. Participants follow procedures and document their visit using a participant guide or an online version of the guide to upload photos and comments. The guide, which ensures evaluations and reports are thorough and uniform, requires minimal training. 

For more information, please check out UW-Madison Division of Extension’s Center for Community & Economic Development’s information on First Impressions  

How can I find results from completed First Impressions reports from Green County communities?


Questions? Want to Bring First Impressions to Your Community?

Contact Victoria Solomon, Community Resource Educator, Extension Green County at (608) 328-9440 or

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